Hi i’m Donna Wanderlust welcome to Haute Culture.
Haute Culture project is a personal, professional and educational exploration focused on sharing my primary experiences of worldwide travel through researching cultural costume and textiles.
So what will you see here?
I am a roving researcher who is really fascinated by the way people dress in different countries and from different cultures. So naturally I have decided to pair this passion with real life and devote my present time to researching traditional cultural costume, textile design and going on adventures. Here on Haute Culture you can expect to see all the things that I find beautiful, interesting, colourful, unique and funny about the places I go and the people I meet along the way.
After living in Vietnam for less than 2 years I see that increased tourism, the access to technology, media and mass produced goods is making the world a smaller place. New generations of indigenous and ethnic groups are exposed to a new way of life and opportunities previously unknown by their predecessors. In a world where first impressions count some of these people strive too or are forced to fit in in order to earn a living and their place in the new world. Traditional identities through dress are either evolving or slowly being eradicated. I want to provide a voice for these people, capture, and someway preserve the diverse and beautifully handcrafted costumes that many ethnic minority people have made over generations, thus forming an important part of their cultural identity before they die out.
The original term Haute Couture pronounced ōt ko͞oˈto͝or is French for ‘High Fashion’. Haute meaning high, luxury and expensive, couture meaning fashionable clothes. Haute Culture on a similar vibe refers primarily (but not limited) to the diverse and beautifully handcrafted costumes that many ethnic minority, tribal and traditional people have made over generations, thus forming an important part of their cultural identity.
My life, that’s what! I have been either studying or working within fashion and textiles since the age of 16, thats half of my life so far. I was always a fashion geek, not in the “designer brands, obsessed with trends and shopping sense”, but really studying hard to learn all I could about different areas of design and achieve the best grades I could. After 8 years of studying lots of fashion related subjects and working for half a year in NYC, I left university with a 1st Class Honours and landed my first job in Shanghai, and … I … absolutely hated it 🙁 8 months later I returned home with my tape measure between my legs, but I was pleasantly surprised to be offered a job as an A-level textiles teacher. From 2008 – 2013 I worked part time teaching fashion and textiles whilst establishing my own dream vintage textiles business Spinster’s Emporium.
Over the years I grew more creatively and professionally, and I did a good job to get my business all the right attention, from being featured in Vogue magazine to selling my vintage textile range in Liberty of London. I worked in different colleges and universities and I was even given the opportunity to study a teaching degree for free. More and more seeds were being sown and roots were growing deeper, thats when I had my very own typical “Eat, Prey, Love” moment and realised I didn’t want any of it anymore. When everyone else was having their “gap yaah” at university, I was actually studying. Yes I lived in NYC for a short stint, which was one of the best years of my life, but after that I was just work, work, work, with no time to even go on holiday anymore. I fantasied about traveling around the world and CRAVED to leave, I started looking for a way to get out of the UK as quickly as possible.
It took about 5 months but in July 2013 I sold my business in Nottingham, said goodbye to my family and bestest friends, and headed to Hanoi, Vietnam to start a full time career as a fashion lecturer. Since then I have spent all of my holidays and weekends travelling Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, and that is just the start.
I currently work alternate years, 1 year in Hanoi followed by 1 year traveling and working on Haute Culture. In August 2017 I will finish my 1 year contract in Hanoi and travel to Central and South America, I hope that this blog will be more than just a series of diary entries that only my mum will read, but will also act as an inspiring and honest guide for others to learn something new about places and people from all over the world. I will experiment with expanding my skills into previously unexplored fields of expertise such as writing, photography, filming, video editing, digital media, marketing and promotion. My dream is to be self employed once more with my business in my backpack.
Oh and don’t forget to follow Haute Culture here! Thanks for stopping by, love Donna Wanderlust x